The eastern San Juan Mountains do not reveal their size and
splendor until you get into them. From US160 between Del
Norte and South Fork they appear more like a shapeless
forest in the distance, topped by a few high rock outcrops.
Once you get into them their size becomes apparent. Blowout
Pass is a remote pass in this area.
click on profile for more detail
|1.(7900ft,mile00) START-END NORTH: jct
US160 - FR14, just west of Del Norte
2.(9830ft,mile14) START-END NORTH ALTERNATE: Elk Park,
jct with Shady Creek Trail on right
3.(10900ft,mile17) profile stays left on FR329
4.(11040ft,mile29) Burro Creek jeep road joins from
5.(10980ft,mile29) Bennet Creek Trail joins from left.
Road. Take right uphill
6.(11780ft,mile31) TOP: Blowout Pass, also jct
7.(9170ft,mile34) START-END SOUTH ALTERNATE: route
goes left down FR250 towards Jasper at this T
8.(8500ft,mile47) below spillway of Terrace Reservoir
9.(8320ft,mile49) START-END SOUTH: FR250 crosses
Alamosa river easth of Terrace Reservoir
From South. The profile shows the most obvious way to
approach Blowout Pass, FR14 (Pinos Creek Rd) leaving from US160
just west of Del Norte. But there are many other options. The
road is initially paved and becomes heavily graveled (as of
June/10), before it crosses into the Rio Grande National Forest.
Initially the Pinos Creek Road does follow Pinos Creek. But it
soon climbs the ridge to the east. It stays in heavy aspen
forest, periodically opening views onto Del Norte Peak and the
mountains ahead. Grayback Mountain can be identified by the
small transmission tower on top. When turning left onto FR329 a
long contour around the hills finally leads to the start of the
steep pass road. Burro Creek Road joins here. This is a more
direct but less used road, and the map would suggest probably a
better cycling approach. (I have not tried this yet) The road
switches back over rough terrain and gains the pass at just
above treeline. The view on the other side is worth every effort
to climb it.
From North. (also described upwards) From just north
of La Jara Co371 heads west. It turns into a dirt road that
follows some of the northern most headwaters of the Rio Grande
River up Alamosa Creek. Gradually the road actually starts to
climb into a plateau that can hardly be recognized as such, from
The profile starts at Terrace Reservoir, where the climbing
becomes noticeable. Rolling terrain through a mixture of
pleasant forested canyon and private ranches, also a nice free
campground, leads to the collection of houses in the woods,
named Jasper. Apparently this community has its roots as a
mining town, but today it looks more like a collection of modern
vacation houses with a special affinity for solar power.
Bennett Peak (13203ft) from about 500ft below summit on south
The turnoff up Blowout Pass is marked with a very small sign.
In spite of this the road made me wonder if I just was riding up
some small communal driveway in the woods. But sure enough - it
continued. The road climbs very steeply on a rough rocky surface
in the woods. I walked much of it. This way I had enough energy
left to at least ride part of the last two miles, much of which
have a smoother surface, and are also not quite as steep. That
was my impression, but the elevation profile seems to average it
Finally the last few hundred feet of the climb are above
treeline. A trail up to the right to the top of Bennett Peak
(13203ft) looks like it would give a very far reaching view. The
most scenic way to continue from here on a bicycle would be the TR700
Dry Creek summit. But instead the profile makes Blowout Pass
the highest point and descends from here.
A Day on a tour
PARTIALLY PAVED / UNPAVED
Pass>) La Jara > Co371 west > up FR250 along
Alamosa river > Blowout Pass > down FR330 > down FR12
> Del Norte: 70 miles. (mech Odo: m1.87.09.11).
Notes: the previous day had no passes: Platoro > La Jara.
Previous day to that: Pagosa Springs > Elwood Pass >
Stunner Pass > Platoro. Next day: Del Norte > Carnero Pass
> Saguache. Co371 was unpaved at the time.
A Dayride with this point as intermediate summit
is on page: FR330 Greyback
Today Blowout Pass seems like the absolutely most cumbersome
way to get from Summitville to del Norte. Yet - in the late
1800s, the road was used to move ore from the mining center to
del Norte. Later it was even used for freighting.